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What is a Cedar Roof Conversion?

What is a Cedar Roof Conversion?

Decades ago, back in the 70’s & 80’s cedar shakes were a common roofing choice, being made from old-growth cedar it was aesthetic, renewable and a natural insulator. Being cedar, it had to be treated to be fire (chance it could still combust at any time) and weather resistant based on the location of your home. Its curb appeal made it seem like cottages, cabins or country side homes in the suburban Lower Mainland.  

Over time, it became more difficult to get good quality cedar shakes at a fair price due to old-growth forest cutting restrictions, which quickly made it one of the most expensive roofing options available. Aside from the cost of replacing a cedar shake roof, it required additional maintenance to ensure the cedar shakes remain breathable; regular treatment to prevent moss, mold & rot growth, warping, unwanted moisture absorption, and debris cleanup. Making cedar roof conversions a more reasonable option than replacing cedar shingles again.

On average, around 10 years cedar shakes become sun-faded (colour fades away) and as it inches into the 15-20 year range it will start to show signs of wear & tear, depending on the location of the home and level of maintenance; Maintaining by regularly clearing debris or moss, and applying regular treatments to reduce rotting, warping, moisture absorption and moss growth. Noticeable signs are cedar cracking, curling, shingles falling out of place or off the roof, cedar cap damage, roof leaks due to weather and rodent damage to name a few.  

Cedar Roof Conversion Process

A cedar roof conversion refers to the process of replacing your current roofing material from tiles to another roofing material, including asphalt shingles, composite shingles, or metal. By switching from a cedar roof, you can achieve greater durability, timeless aesthetics and make it significantly more affordable to maintain.

A cedar roof offers natural beauty and durability, enhancing a home's charm. However, maintenance demands, susceptibility to mold, and decay over time have become disadvantages. These drawbacks prompt homeowners to consider converting to alternative roofing materials for reduced upkeep, improved longevity, and enhanced energy efficiency.

A cedar roof conversion involves removing the existing tile roofing material and installing another roofing material in its place. The process requires expertise and precision to ensure proper installation and secure attachment to the roof structure.

Cedar Roof Conversion: A Roof Replacement Option

Which means it’s time to look into your roof replacement options - either a cedar roof replacement or a cedar conversion (from cedar to another roofing material).

A cedar roof replacement involves tearing off your entire old cedar shake roof and replacing it with a whole new one; cedar shingles, skip-sheathing and all. Suggested in cases where the roof is damaged beyond repair like damaged skip-sheathing, leaks in the roof, or excessive mold and rot making the roof structurally unsafe for the homeowners to live in their home, etc. Being the extreme alternative, it’s the more expensive solution in both time and cost, that very few homeowners can afford.

A cedar conversion, which is a variation of cedar roof replacement, involves replacing cedar shingles with a new material like asphalt shingles, rubber shingles, metal panels, concrete tiles, etc.; Each option requiring a roof deck to be installed because cedar shakes don’t have one to begin with. Homeowners normally opt for a cedar to asphalt shingle conversion for its comparative durability, affordability and versatile design options to other roofing materials.

When choosing either of these options, there are some areas to consider: 

  • Protection of property while working because a lack of roof deck to prevent debris from falling into the exposed attic
  • Longevity of a new roof, finding a balance between applying enough of the correct treatments to withstand the weather & fire and replacing enough of the roof’s structure for the roof to last
  • Aesthetics of selecting a new roofing material vs.using the Cedar shake warranty
  • Manufacturer support being available; Many manufacturers are no longer around anymore
  • Weather variability, in Vancouver, the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley. Weather can be unpredictable and generally wetter than other areas, which promotes the growth of algae, rot and mold; Along with causing unexpected damage to occur over time.   

Steps to Convert a Cedar Roof into Another Roofing Material

The cedar roof conversion process into another roofing material involves several key steps:

  1. Assessment and Planning: Evaluate the current condition of the cedar roof and consult with roofing professionals to determine the suitability of the conversion.
  2. Choose the New Material: Research and select the roofing material that aligns with your aesthetic preferences, budget, and performance requirements.
  3. Obtain Necessary Permits: Check local regulations and obtain any required permits for the roofing project.
  4. Prepare the Roof: Remove the existing cedar shingles, inspect the underlying structure for any damage, and make necessary repairs.
  5. Install Roof Decking over the Roof Framing: Install plyboard to the existing roof framing to provide a solid foundation to install the selected roofing materials to.
  6. Install Underlayment and New Material: Lay down appropriate underlayment and begin installing the new roofing material according to manufacturer guidelines.
  7. Finishing Touches: Complete the installation, including flashing, ridge vents, and any additional features.
  8. Inspection: Have the new roofing system inspected to ensure it meets safety and quality standards.
  9. Clean Up: Properly dispose of old roofing materials and debris.

Considerations for Cedar Roof Conversion

Before proceeding with a cedar roof conversion, consider the following factors:

  • Climate: Choose a roofing material that performs well in your climate, whether it's hot, cold, rainy, or snowy.
  • Aesthetics: Select a material that complements the architectural style of your home.
  • Budget: Compare the costs of different roofing materials, including installation and long-term maintenance.
  • Longevity: Research the expected lifespan of the chosen material and factor it into your decision.
  • Environmental Impact: Consider the eco-friendliness of the new material and its recyclability.


Can any roofing material replace cedar shingles?

Yes, several roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles, metal, slate, and synthetic options, can replace cedar shingles.

How long does a cedar roof conversion take?

The duration depends on factors like the size of the roof, chosen material, and weather conditions. It typically takes a few weeks.

Will a new roofing material change the temperature inside my house?

Yes, different roofing materials have varying insulation properties that can impact indoor temperature.

Are there any eco-friendly roofing alternatives?

Yes, materials like metal, clay tiles, and certain synthetics are known for their eco-friendliness and recyclability.

Can I convert my cedar roof myself?

Roofing projects are complex and require specialized skills. It's recommended to hire professional roofing contractors.

What's the cost difference between cedar roofs and other materials?

Costs vary widely based on material, installation, and region. Generally, cedar roofs are pricier upfront, while asphalt shingles are more budget-friendly.

BulletpRoof Roof Systems is family operated roofing contractor with over 15 years of experience. We have been helping families throughout Mission, BC and neighbouring areas resolve issues with their residential sloped roofs for many years now. We pride ourselves on providing genuine professional roofing services and are dedicated to helping our clients resolve issues with their roof systems as efficiently as possible.
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